When I saw Vampire Weekend perform in Rochester, they promised the audience they’d release a third studio album soon. That was over a year ago and it doesn’t seem likely that the new album will drop any time before 2013. I’m OK with this fact for a variety of reasons:
1) I hope they take as long as necessary to put out a stellar album. No need to rush.
2) Not to bash their musical awesomeness, but Vampire Weekend is overplayed and it’s been kind of nice not having to hear one of their songs in every third commercial on TV.
3) Chris Baio (the band’s bassist) is a god behind a turntable.
During the band’s lull in activity, Baio (his stage name as a DJ) has been trying to carve a place for himself in the United States’ emerging electrofunk/nu-disco underground scene: a scene which has already fully developed in other nations. (Canada’s Chromeo owns electrofunk; Germany’s Justin Faust and Belgium’s Areoplane have got nu-disco down to a science.) In that respect Baio’s debut EP, Sunburn, is a huge success, given the overwhelming positive reception it’s received. Typically, his preferred modus operandi is to release hour-or-so long mixes via his SoundCloud in order to allow tracks the space necessary to fully develop and take the listener on a journey, albeit a very funky journey. With Sunburn, however, Baio offers three tracks that are each a much more manageable length (about six minutes per track).
The same Afro-Caribbean influences that make Vampire Weekend so intriguing are evident right from the beginning of “Sunburn Modern,” the EP’s lead off track. The track pairs bongos, shakers, and dance music requisites (claps, snaps, and cymbals) with echoing vocal samples of a manually increased pitch to create what feels to be tribal EDM. It’s dope. And the quality carries out throughout the rest of the record before reaching its pinnacle during the closing track, “Tanto.” After being given access to some exclusive vocal tracks from Matias Aguayo (one half of the minimal electro duo Closer Musik), Baio was impressively able to manage the airy texture of Aguayo’s voice with acute mastery, creating a truly spacious trance-dance track that feels perfectly akin to those found on Aguayo’s almost-exclusively a cappella solo LP, Ay Ay Ay.